Living Poets Society

New Club Revives Interest in English

by Meagan Cole

The Living Poets Society is all the rage on campus after its opening no more than a couple of weeks ago. “[We] didn’t expect the sort of feedback we’ve been getting. The students are saying how excited they are and how badly we needed it and how they’ll definitely be at the meetings.”

Juniors, Hillary Ferguson and Leslie Shallock, are the founders and introduced their club for students to benefit from what the English department has to offer, even if classes or a major/minor doesn’t fit an otherwise occupied schedule. What makes the Living Poets Society stand out is it’s specific to a single discipline but welcomes every major unlike an honors society. “”The goal is just to strengthen our English community and foster an environment where people can expose their writing and discuss their passions in the field, regardless of if they’re taking an English class or not.”

In addition, one of the primary concerns of students exclusive to the English department is how the three separated majors are so separate. Hillary, a local Creative Writing major, says, “It started as a Creative Writing Club, but we wanted a place where each section of the department could contribute, too.” Paraphrased, the students may share the same professors focusing on the same department, but they never do anything together; Living Poets Society provides the opportunity to intermingle between Creative Writing, Communications, and Literary Studies. They also branch out even further with additional content including film, theatre, and pop culture.

The educational benefits are obvious as the main focus is to get more people excited about literature and writing. Leslie, an English major and Education minor from western North Carolina, says, “Sometimes we forget why we study what we do, and we study because we love it.” They also hope to peak the interest of incoming students, advertising how English is better-rounded by offering multiple majors.

Their long-term goals even include alumni, allowing them to keep in touch and even come back to discuss their success stories and work after graduation. This makes the Living Poets Society one of the current clubs embracing the widest range of the Roanoke College community: prospective students, enrolled students, alumni, and faculty. Hillary and Leslie also started a blog for the club’s contributions: twoeatornottoeat.blogspot.com.

Despite such positive results early on, not all English majors agree with the Living Poets Society’s tactics. Fight Club has already been meeting on campus since the beginning of the semester as an underground poetry club for writers who prefer to discuss their work in a private setting, where everyone is not afraid to give tough love. Allie Helms, Junior, English major, and member of the opposing club, says, “While we are underground and welcome new members on occasion, we offer a safe environment for writers who already know each other from class and will provide criticism if asked.”

Hillary and Leslie respond, “It’s a shame to try and distance our goals, work independently, and harmoniously without treading on each other’s territory. While Fight Club is good for a small group, it isn’t ideal for the whole department. [The Living Poets Society] incorporates theatre, film, and other areas than just poetry, too. In the end, we hope we can work together to meet the needs of the department.”

The first meeting for the Living Poets Society is being held March 19th at 6 PM in Miller 212, and to be determined biweekly meetings will be planned thereafter. “As we’re trying to get it off the ground,” Hillary says, “[we are] hoping to do different events, readings, one or two within a semester, host film nights, analyzing modern literature translated into film, and concentrate on recent pop literature/culture.” For more information, persons can contact Hillary, Leslie, or Dr. Hanstedt.